Yiwu – London Railway Line
The Yiwu – London Railway Line is a freight railway route from Yiwu, China, to London, United Kingdom, covering a distance of roughly 12,000 km (7,500 miles). This makes it the second longest railway freight route in the world after the Yiwu - Madrid Railway Line, which spans 12,874 km (8,000 miles). It is one of several long distance freight railway routes from China to Europe on the “New Eurasian Land Bridge” and part of establishing a modern-day Silk Road. The route was opened on the 1st of January 2017, making London the 15th European city to have a railway route connection with China, and takes 18 days to complete (other European cities with China-Europe railway routes include Hamburg, Madrid, Rotterdam, Warsaw, etc.).
From Yiwu, a trading center 300 km south of Shanghai, the track passes through 9 countries: China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, UK. In order to get to the UK the route passes through the Channel Tunnel between France and the UK. The London end of the line is located at the DB Eurohub in Barking, East London
Yiwu - Madrid Railway line
The Yiwu - Madrid Railway line is a railway route taken by container trains from the Chinese city of Yiwu to the Spanish city of Madrid, a distance of approximately 13,000 kilometers (approximately 6,200 miles), and the longest in the world. The Trans-Siberian Railway was previously the longest. It is one of several routes used by long distance freight trains on the "New Eurasian Land Bridge". (Other city pairs connected by regular freight trains running between China and Europe include e.g. Lianyungang and Rotterdam, or Yiwu and Warsaw; as of 2016, at least 12 Chinese cities and 9 European ones were connected by similar trains.)
From Yiwu, a trading centre 300 km south of Shanghai, the track passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, terminating at the Spanish capital. China, Poland and Western Europe have Standard gauge track, while Russia and Belarus use Russian gauge, and Spain, an even wider Iberian gauge. Therefore, trains go through Bogie exchange (or, more likely, have containers reloaded to rail cars of a different gauge) at Dostyk, Kazakhstan, Brest, Belarus, and Hendaye.
The journey takes 21 days. In comparison, a sea journey would take six weeks, and road transport would cause about three times as much pollution (114 tonnes of CO2 against 44 tonnes by rail).
Trains are run by different companies, which are a joint venture between the German Deutsche Bahn AG and Russian Railways (RZD). Typical goods include computers and vehicle parts.
The international project follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise to establish an "economic belt" along the historic Silk Road and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for "a new wave of industrialisation across the Eurasian continent"